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ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional review

A bargain board with angular looks, but does anyone remember Fatal1ty anymore?

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Look at the backplates of the Asus P8Z77-V Pro and the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H and you'll see every display output under the sun, ASRock though understands the Fatal1ty Z77 Professional is only ever going to have a discrete pixel pusher strapped to it taking care of the display needs of the system.

That means the back panel alone has six USB 3.0 ports and another six USB 2.0, as well as twin Gigabit LAN connectors.

And if you really must output via the onboard graphics at any point ASRock has still strapped HDMI and DisplayPort connectors on the back too.

All that despite being the cheapest of the Z77 boards we've tested.

To bolster its gaming credentials you also get the latest version of Lucid's Virtu technology, MVP. According to the marketing blurb it'll help boost frame rates, sort out VSync stutters and make you breakfast in the morning.

In real life though things aren't so rosey.

The HyperFormance (we just sicked up a little at that trademark) part of the MVP software does some sort of asynchronous multi-GPU shenanigans to make use of the CPU graphics inside the Intel chip.

In reality though it only works with certain titles, and even then only sporadically.

In both DiRT 3 and World in Conflict MVP actually made frame rates drop, though did boost the minimum frame rate in WiC. Things seemed a little better when the final figures were spat out of the Shogun 2 benchmark, offering a 10FPS boost, though the graphical artefacts in-game mean it's still not worth it.

The actual ASRock board's performance is pretty impressive though, even at stock speeds it's got some decent number-crunching chops.

When the Intel Core i7 3770K is set to it's stock 3.7GHz multi-threaded Turbo it even out-performs the Asus P8Z77-V Pro, which only managed a rather paltry 7.39 in Cinebench. We can see why that board Turbos to 3.9GHz by default now.

The Z77 Professional also posted the best memory bandwidth figures of the bunch too.

It didn't keep up with the top two in the overclocking stakes though, managing only 4.7GHz. But that's still a hell of an OC, especially on such a well-priced board.

Ultimately then it's a great bargain Z77 board, offering impressive options for the PC gamer without breaking the bank.

We liked

Straight away the price makes this Z77 motherboard an absolute steal - it's perfectly judged as a gamer's board.

The ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional is also up there when it comes to performance too. It may not have the straight-line speed, but it's more than competitive.

It's also great that ASRock has opted to include more USB connectivity than extraneous display outputs. It knows the motherboard's audience.

We disliked

The pricier Asus and Gigabyte boards automatically take it upon themselves to constantly push the performance envelope - with the ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 professional though you'll have to take matters into your own hands.

Verdict

An absolute bargain Z77 motherboard, perfect for the peripheral-heavy gamer, and pretty good for everyone else too.